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Firefighting detection dog ‘Gandalf’ hits the beat to help bust bugs

Published: 15th September 2018

Firefighting detection dog in-training ‘Gandalf’ will soon hit the beat as part of Fire and Rescue NSW’s (FRNSW) battle to bust firebugs across the State.

Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said the almost two-year-old Golden Labrador was currently undergoing training with the agency which, when completed, would see him deployed as an accelerant detection dog during fire investigations.

“FRNSW is leading the nation with its use of these canines, which are an incredible resource for its overall firefighting arsenal,” Mr Grant said.

“This innovative program began in 1995, the first of its kind for any Australasian fire service, and they’re still the only agency in the country to use dogs for this purpose.” 

Accelerant detection dogs can be utilised anywhere across NSW, and have demonstrated a 97 per cent accuracy during their deployments.

“These dogs can smell accelerant in smaller concentrations than any portable scientific equipment currently available, which is really quite remarkable,” Mr Grant said.

“They cover large areas and narrow down searches really quickly, which offers great support for the firies on the frontline, as it means less time and exposure for those officers in the middle of fire scenes.”

FRNSW canine handler Tim Garrett said Gandalf has been making great progress with his training.

“Gandalf is certainly living up to his name. He’s the oldest, wisest looking two-year-old dog you’ll ever see, and he’s taken to his training like a wizard,” Mr Garrett said.

“We’ve developed a strong bond in just three months, and I’ve started introducing him to fire scenes. He has learned to locate trace amounts of petrol and other accelerants, and he should be ready to become an operational detection dog by the end of the year.

“Our program is really cutting-edge; with dogs’ past discoveries at fire scenes having proven invaluable to fire investigators, police and the Coroner’s office.”

To learn more about the FRNSW Accelerant Detection Canine Program, visit: www.fire.nsw.gov.au/page.php?id=169